“When is it Okay to Lie?” Recently in my church the Associate Pastor asked the same question to those in our Sunday School class. The response from the members of the class was very interesting. Not everyone agreed with those that came forward with an answer, while many sat there pondering how they would respond to the question.
My answer to this question today in this blog is “it is never okay to lie.” I challenge you to keep reading and not merely grunt and move on to another of your daily tasks because that is the answer to the title of this blog. It is never okay to lie, for any reason.
I know what you are going to ask… what about this scenario? or what if that scenario happens? Philosophy classes are replete with these exercises. They seem to go like this: Would you harbor Jews, and if/when the Nazis came to your door would you lie to protect them and your family? Or another example, would you lie to protect your family from an intruder?
After thinking about these scenarios I have chosen not to answer them directly but rather to give you Biblical principles that will help you make a God honoring choice in any situation.
1. God Does Not Lie
The beginning point in any/every situation must always be the character of God. Too often when we are faced with an earthly dilemma we do not stop and consider who God is. The first truth here is: God Never Lies, period. There is no equivocation, only truth. He does not lie, and has never lied about anything, nor will He ever lie.
Even Balak, a pagan prophet, says in Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie…”. Here it is assumed that men will lie. It is incredulous to Balak that the one true God would act like men and lie, going against His nature. Or how about Titus 1:2, “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago…,” and 1 Samuel 15:29, “The Glory of Israel will not lie…”. The Bible clearly tells us that God will not lie. What He promises will come to pass, and what He says is truth.
Jesus says in John, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus is THE TRUTH. There is no falsehood in Him at all, and His word can be trusted.
It is against the character of God to lie. This is where a person must always begin when it comes to questions of behavior as a Christian.
2. God Hates Lying
Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood. A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.”
Notice that Proverbs actually mentions lying twice in these seven abominations that God hates. God hates a “lying tongue” and “a false witness who utters lies.” A person with a “lying tongue” is someone who lies casually for their own personal esteem or profit. A “false witness who utters lies” is someone who tries to hurt another person intentionally.
When we think of lying we must stop and remember that it is something God hates. It is an abomination to Him. Lying is a serious matter before the Lord. God is a God of truth and desires His children to live a life of truthfulness.
Whenever you are faced with a situation that gives you the opportunity to lie, you must remember that God hates lying. There is no such thing as a “white lie”. This term is a creation of sinful men who love to justify their lying before a truthful and holy God.
3. God Desires Christ-Likeness
God expects His people to be different from the pagan world around them. They are to be like Christ. Jesus says this in Mathew 5:13-16 when He says Christians are the salt and light of the world. You are to act as a preservative in the midst of a decaying world, and to be the light that shines in the darkness. You can be neither of these things if you lie just like the world does.
This is especially true when it comes to dealing with the people of God. God tells His people in both the Old and New Testaments, not to lie to one another.
Leviticus 19:11 says, “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”
Colossians 3:9 says, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.”
The goal of the Christian life is not wealth, health, or prosperity; it is Christ-likeness. Read Romans 8:28-30. All believers are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. When God chose His children before the foundation of the world, this was His goal; that they would be like His Son.
4. Your Heart is the Issue, Not Your Circumstances!
This is another important truth. Your heart is really the issue before the Lord. A person that lives apart from the truth of God has no qualms in lying to escape any scenario. One lie begets another. If a person will lie about the little things then they’ll lie about the big things.
What about the little “white lies” you ask? “Aren’t they ok?” Let me ask you a couple of questions. “Is it ever ok to steal?” Maybe just a little bit of theft… We could call it “white theft.” Or, “is a little adultery ok?” Ask your spouse about that one. In response to these your answer is, “of course not!” Why then are little lies ok? It is still a lie no matter how we try to lessen its sinfulness. If it is a lie, then God hates it, plain and simple. Sin is still sin no matter how we try to reclassify it.
Ultimately it comes down to a matter of the heart. If you are born again, then you have the power through the Holy Spirit to say no to sin. You can speak without telling lies.
5. God Knows Your Every Situation.
This is the final truth for today. God is all knowing and He is sovereign over your life. He is not surprised by your circumstances and He has a purpose for them. God will never put you in a situation where you cannot be faithful. God will never tempt you, or put you in a circumstance for you to fail. It is Satan that desires your downfall, not God. God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). He will provide a way out so that you will not have to sin.
In every situation where you are tempted to lie there is always a way out in which you will not have to compromise your integrity. Following Christ has a cost, and telling the truth may cost you. Remember, God blesses those that tell the truth and live obediently to His word.
If you do give in to temptation and lie, then do not blame God for the circumstances that led you to lie. It is your own fault for giving in to the temptation, not God’s (James 1:13-17). Confess that your lying is sin and repent of it (1 John 1:9).
Hopefully through this brief treatment, you can see some truths that will help you to have a Biblical response to any situation that you face. Remember, those philosophical questions are designed to be hard. The choice that you may have to make not be easy, and may cost you something. Remember that you are not alone, God is with you, will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, and has your best interests at heart. In the end you will be able to stand with the ancient martyrs of the faith who said that obedience to their Lord Jesus Christ was more important than anything else, even their own lives.